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Holiday Season 2006
The holidays make me reflective. I tend to write
at least one personal essay that turns into a
letter to friends or colleagues. This month I
decided to revise an "oldie but goodie" and share
it with you. Let me know what you think.
I hung the last tree ornament yesterday. A latecomer—the rest had been
hung days before—its frosty glass, shaped like an apple, glowed alabaster in the white tree lights.
The ornament was a gift from a group of trainers. We'd all been through a
head-squeezing, body-numbing, patience-trying three days of preparation in Portland, Oregon, to train
1200 teachers across the country in a recycling curriculum. On the last night, Kathy Prenger, a Portland
native, invited us to her house to recoup.
"I'd feel really privileged," her husband said to all of us, "if you'd tell
me how you celebrate the holidays where you live and what makes the celebration special for you."
Michelle said her brother, a Chicago fireman, hoses water into a log frame set
in an open field, creating a custom ice-skating rink. Brenda's family in Atlanta exchanges only three
simple gifts, to symbolize the Wise Men's offerings. Lowell speaks Patois with his father from the
Caribbean and listens to his grandmother in DC tell about the days when her parents were slaves.
And I said that I often bring back Christmas ornaments from the places I
travel, and revel in the moments they call to mind as I place them on the tree year-in, year-out.
Together with all the handcrafted hearts, sleds, bells, churches, wreaths, and other tree trimmers
given to me by friends and family, they remind me of moments, some of them milestones, in this life
that I claim as mine.
A harlequin hails from New Orleans, where I first heard blues singer
Marcia Ball—I was mesmerized not only by her rollicking performance (she's been called the
queen of boogie piano) but also by how she'd dared to forge a unique career path. A glass raindrop,
suspended by a gossamer thread, recalls Newport Beach, Oregon, where I celebrated my transition from
employee to entrepreneur. And now I add to these the frosted glass apple from my newfound friends
in Portland. For years to come, I will marvel at how that group arrived as individuals and left
I don't know if our Portland hosts realized what magic they were
creating when they invited us to tell our stories around their yuletide log. To learn what
matters to another human, even if only in vignette, enriches us all. Blessed are those who
ask—and those who listen.
Where are there opportunities in your workplace to learn what
matters to a coworker? Where is there magic waiting to be created, just by really listening
and paying attention to the moments that make up a life?
Thanks for the part you've played in the story of what I've done
in the last few years of my own career, and for allowing me to be a small part of yours.
Have a peace-filled holiday.
Continuing the theme of personal sustainability
(in case you'd like to practice it this holiday
here are some rules
for the road.
Cross-Posting: Writing Retreat
Write Time, Write Place, Write Now
Royal Rose Inn B & B, Rehoboth, DE. Hold these dates: March 2 - 4, 2007.
I'm launching a writing retreat in March
2007—because what could be better than
vanquishing the blank page in the company of
fellow writers? If you've been harboring a
writing dream—now's the time to say "Yes!"
to that dream. Pricing and program details
will be available mid-December. If you'd
like to take a look, email me
to get on the special mailing list.